Some media networks today are covering aspects of a question asked during an interview between George Stephanopoulos and Michael Steele.
GS: "Do you feel that, as an African-American, you have a slimmer margin for error than another Chairman would?"
MS: "The honest answer is yes. It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. A lot of folks do. It's a different role for me to play and others to play, and that's just the reality of it. But you take that as a part of the nature of it."
I agree with Steele, for the most part. I disagree with some of the commentators on major network TV. Listening to Al Sharpton right now on The Ed Show. I'm agreeing with most of what Sharpton is saying. It seems criticism over Steele's comment is largely partisan in nature and not focused around issues of racial disparity.
African Americans are under greater scrutiny and offered a much slimmer margin of error. It is a fact of life, but it is not one we should accept. It's not playing the race card as many have implied. The GOP does not have a stunning reputation when it comes to embracing ethnicities that are not Caucasian. The question is a reasonable one in light of this trend. Steele using Obama as an example is also legitimate and helps point out the drive from the Right towards criticizing Obama because of the color of his skin, although I do not think Steele meant for that conclusion to be drawn from his answer. When a white guy screws up, on average, he is going to get some leeway. When a black guy screws up, he is likely to be fired. Plain and simple.
That being said, Steele should be held to the standard by which any GOP Chairmen should. Whether or not he is being crucified as a result of his race has yet to be revealed, and perhaps never will, but the question is there. The "race card" is only a race card when it is played to avoid personal responsibility for matters unrelated to race by dragging race into an argument where it does not belong. The notion that perhaps Michael Steele was being set up or is simply taking the fall for this, in part, because of his race has been in my mind from the moment he took heat for Voyeur-gate. I'm not saying he should be excused, but I am saying that the reaction might be accentuated by matters of race.
We are not out of the (back)woods yet with regard to racism in this country.